Detente is over.
After observing last week’s campaign advertising blackout in honor of the Sept. 11 anniversary, both Republican Gov. John G. Rowland and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill Curry launched tens of thousands of dollars worth of new television spots Monday.
But this time around, the candidates’ tones are decidedly more positive.
Rowland appears with his black Labrador retriever, touting his administration’s record on open space preservation and vowing to fight further casino development. A smiling Curry appears with his mother, taking issue with Rowland’s earlier television ads that accused him of wanting to raise income taxes.
“I wonder if they’re afraid if they look too negative,” said University of Connecticut political science professor Howard Reiter of both candidates. He said Rowland in particular needed to be careful about continuing a string of ads that take aim at Curry.
“If it had gone much longer than it had, he probably would have seen editorials (criticizing him on the strategy),” Reiter said.
Despite the warm and fuzzy tone of candidates’ ads, both campaigns accused the other Monday of distorting records, stretching truths and being negative.
For instance, Roy Occhiogrosso, Curry’s campaign manager, said Rowland has consistently backed casino gambling and the TV ad is an attempt to change his image. Rowland fired back, saying that despite Curry’s claims he has never said he supports a third casino in Connecticut — besides the 1995 failed Bridgeport casino proposal.
“I’m against any casino expansion. Period,” Rowland said.
The latest poll, conducted by the Center for Survey Research and Analysis at UConn, indicates the gubernatorial race is becoming tighter. Among registered voters in Connecticut last week, 40 percent said they would vote for Rowland, 31 percent said they would vote for Curry and 25 percent said they remained undecided.